A Love Letter to Sustainability from Alicia Upton

By Alicia Upton on 26/03/2021

As a conscientious child I was always concerned about the planet. I was the kid at school helping the bugs off the playground and turning off unused switches‘for the polar bears’ (I’m not sure now how much good it did, but I was trying).

It’s hard to know when collecting bugs on leaves morphed into a driving passion, but I do know that my journey into sustainability truly began when I moved to Cornwall to study Sustainable Product Design.

I had all the expected university experiences- coffee fuelled late night library sessions, the notorious freshers flu and the pangs of homesickness. But beyond this, I found myself in a community of people who, like me, were as dedicated to both enjoying and protecting one of the most idyllic corners of the British Isles.

We spent long summer days road-tripping to secret beaches, dipping in the (eternally icy) Cornish waters and soaking up the sunshine with BBQ’d Linda MCartney sausage sandwiches and local pale ales. When winter forced the swimsuits into retirement, we’d hike miles- through rain and (on one unfortunate occasion) storms- taking in the rough bracken scrublands and rolling grey seas.

 

Sustainability Alicia

I’ve learnt which plants make a good mid hike snack and which definitely doesn’t (avoid three cornered leek or wild garlic- the taste lingers for miles). I’ve learned the names of the swooping sea birds- I still get excited when I correctly identify a cormorant flying low across the waves or an egret picking through the mud flats of an estuary at low tide.

These experiences irreversibly strengthened my connection to the natural world, and invigorated my studies in the aim of protecting it. I have found purpose in protecting the planet and strengthening communities (which is all sustainability really means). I’m excited at the opportunity to bring these values into my work with Bangers and Balls.

Coming into the awareness that every split-second decision we make has an impact on the world around us- good or bad- was overwhelming. I’m no stranger to the crushing worry of ‘eco-anxiety’- the worry that whatever we do will never be enough.

But by stepping back from the idea that I – or anyone – needs to be perfect, I have found it to be an exciting challenge, bringing creativity and connection to life. Living sustainably has bought an awareness back to the actions in life I once took for granted. Far too often we drift through days on autopilot, making the same choices without thought or awareness.

But when thinking about the greater impacts of our choices we awaken a childlike curiosity for the everyday. I’ve found that living sustainably is joyful. When you consciously act in a way that positively affects the world around you, your brain triggers the release of endorphins. Doing good feels good- what’s not to love?

Embracing the challenge of reconsidering everyday actions has allowed me to get creative and expand my comfort zone. In moving away from fast fashion, clothes shopping has become a treasure hunt. There is no better feeling than finding that perfect dress in the back corner of your local charity shop- knowing that you are supporting a good cause, extending the life of an item and finding a bargain in one fell swoop. Buying local, seasonal veg has bought the excitement back into cooking.

We can all forget to keep things fresh in the kitchen- did you know that 60% of people eat the same seven meals every single week? Using seasonal veg breaks you out of the rut, calling you to experiment regularly with new recipes. Follow Bangers and Balls for some great inspiration or why not spice things up with a floral treat like Imogen's Tantialisingly Tasty Dandelion Flowers.

Alongside this, the UK has higher standards of employment, food quality and animal welfare than many other countries. Buying locally means your food tastes good and does good, and there’s no taste sweeter than sustainability.

Living sustainably has made my life richer, my communities stronger and has allowed me to protect the wild spaces I’ve come to love so much. I’m excited to be working with Bangers and Balls because they both stand for the same things I do. Food is more than just fuel- it is a way in which to connect with the world and the people around us.

I’m excited to be working Bangers and Balls and am looking forward to helping with some magical pop-up events; getting my hands dirty as I grow my own veg alongside the Foodie Revolution and getting to know you all- the wonderful communities Imogen and Duncan have built.

Article written by Alicia Upton

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